...But five years into Mr. Bush's presidency, conservatives have cause to re-evaluate their compromises. While most conservatives supported the invasion of Iraq, many have grave doubts about the conduct of the war. Medicare has been expanded more than it has been reformed. Social Security reform appears to be dead for now. Tax cuts may have inhibited spending - perhaps Medicare would have been expanded even more without them - but they have hardly imposed anything that could fairly be called "restraint."
The president appears not just to oppose immigration restrictions, but to be committed to liberalization. Hurricane Katrina shook conservatives, too. They rightly rejected overheated criticisms of Mr. Bush, especially those that portrayed him as indifferent to the suffering of blacks. But they want the federal government to perform its core functions competently....
In the past, conservatives had overlooked disappointments and disagreements for the sake of getting solid appointments to the Supreme Court. The president's judicial appointments will be among his most lasting legacies. But then Mr. Bush nominated Ms. Miers. Conservatives are not sure she's a legal conservative at all, and they are still less sure that she will be a forceful advocate for originalism. Not even her strongest defenders outside the administration say she would have been their top choice.
Those defenders say that we should nevertheless trust Mr. Bush's judgment. At the very moment that conservatives have begun to conclude that their bets on Mr. Bush are no longer paying off, Mr. Bush has asked them to double down. That request has even pro-Miers conservatives feeling disillusioned, and other conservatives feeling betrayed. That's what's dividing conservatives - and it's why they're thinking more and more about life after President Bush.
Monday, October 17, 2005
Ramesh on Miers and Conservatives
Ramesh Ponnuru, the leading light of National Review and one of the smartest Catholic political writers out there, has a good piece in the New York Times editorial section on why conservatives are getting restive with Bush in general, and the Miers nomination in particular.